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Google Is Bringing a Handoff Feature to Android and Chromebooks


Illustration for article titled Google Is Bringing an Apple-Like Handoff Feature to Android Phones and Chromebooks

Image: Google

It’s hard to believe Chrome OS has already been around for a decade, but to celebrate the Chromebook’s 10th birthday, Google is releasing a bunch of new features to improve productivity, connectivity, and more.

Similar to the way Handoff works on macOS, Google is upgrading the synergy between Chromebooks and Android phones with the new Phone Hub. With Phone Hub, you’ll be able to pair your Android phone with a Chromebook to create a new window with several handy shortcuts that allows you to control your phone remotely. That means you’ll be able to do things like turn on your hotspot, silence your phone’s ringer, or turn on the locate phone feature without needing to get up.

The Phone Hub window should make it easier for your Android phone and Chromebook to work together.

The Phone Hub window should make it easier for your Android phone and Chromebook to work together.
Image: Google

On top of that, you’ll also be able to respond to messages from the Phone Hub, check your phone’s battery life and cell signal, and open up the last two Chrome tabs you were looking at on your phone, allowing to more easily pick up where you left off when switching between devices.

Google has also upgraded its Wi-Fi Sync feature so Chromebooks can automatically log in to wifi networks you’ve previously signed into on your Android phone or other Chrome OS devices. And sometime in the next few months, Google is also bringing the Nearby Share feature to Chromebooks, so you can more easily transfer files wirelessly (over Bluetooth or wifi) between compatible devices.

Meanwhile, to help you get work done just a bit faster, Google has added a new Screen Capture tool to the Chrome OS Quick Settings menu, which can take screenshots or screen recordings simply by selecting content on the screen. The Quick Settings menu now has media controls built right in, and to make screenshots and pinned files easier to access, Google created the new Tote space, which is available from the Chrome OS Shelf.

Even the Chrome OS Clipboard is getting a boost, as it can now save the last five items you’ve copied, which can be easily viewed by pressing the Everything Button + V.

Here’s a demo of the Quick Answers feature in action.
Gif: Google

The Desk feature has also gotten a revamp that lets you rearrange tabs and windows across various workspaces to help keep info for different projects sorted better, and now there’s a new Quick Answers section to anything you right click in your browser that will provide short definitions or unit conversions.

For parents trying to manage their children’s devices better, Google also reworked Family Link so it’s easier for them to manage permissions and personal vs. school accounts on the same devices.

Finally, in addition to new icons for apps like Canvas and Explore, Google also reduced the amount of clicks it takes to share content, and added new controls to the Select-to-Speak feature allowing users to slow down, speed up, or pause text-to-speech playback.

Aside from Nearby Share, most of the new Chromebook features should begin rolling out today, so if you don’t have them already, check back soon for updates.

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